Monday, July 14, 2008

Niall Ferguson; War of the World; Part III; PBS; Cold War; Cuban Missile Crisis; Guatemala, Bosnia

Click here for my notes on Part I and Part II of Niall Ferguson's documentary.

In Part III of this maligned documentary, Ferguson explodes myths and explores little known facts about the Cold War.
  • Ferguson reveals that JFK's seeming success in the Cuban missile crisis was not such a success after all. JFK agreed to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey in exchange for Kruschev's withdrawal of missiles from Cuba. (Conservatives have known this for decades, but nobody has ever paid attention before.) Ferguson further reveals that Kennedy wanted this deal to remain secret.
  • The documentary mentions the Guatemalan coup of 1954, in which the Soviet puppet government was removed. Ferguson shows some film in which evidence of the regime's Soviet ties was revealed.
  • Ferguson downplays the role of Nixon's Chinese diplomacy, stressing that U.S. efforts to court China resulted in the growth of China as a superpower (including China's role in backing the Kmehr Rouge in Cambodia and the subsequent killing fields).
  • In discussing Soviet recruitment in the third world, the documentary refers to "third world Lenins" that followed the Soviet lead - while showing film of dictators like Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi.

Ferguson repeated the usual obligatory moonbattery about CIA backed regimes in South America killing thousands of their citizens and he downplayed the role of Reagan and Thatcher in winning the cold war against the Soviet Union. Ferguson's theory credits (who else?) Gorbachev. This is to be expected from almost any PBS documentary. But he adds much that the left in this country would not like. Any history that confirms old conservative Cold War theories can't be all bad.

Ferguson also discusses the Bosnian civil war from the early 1990's. But he fails to credit the centuries old influence of Islam in this long suppressed struggle.

Ferguson attributes the 20th century War of the World to economic conditions and ethnic strife occurring on the fault lines of competing or declining empires. He references Poland, Cambodia and Bosnia as examples where these conditions led to some of the worst such violence of the century. He then points to the modern day middle east as an example in which history may repeat itself.

In fact, the Islamic world meets most of Ferguson's criteria. If we think of the Islamic world as an expanding empire and substitute religion for ethnicity, we have the recipe for a repeat of the worst slaughter of the 20th century. Everywhere Islam borders another religion [India, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Israel, Kosovo], brutal war exists. Ferguson missed this point.

As he did in Parts I and II, Ferguson lumped Hitler, Stalin and Mao into one group. This treatment contrasts with the MSM/DNC, who spent more than half a century trying to place their ideologies on the opposite ends of the political spectrum (with Reagan always a little closer to Hitler while we never quite heard who the leftist politicians were close to). We must think of totalitarianism like Ferguson instead of simply using one form of it (Nazism) as a handbag to swing at Republicans.

Ferguson's perspective contained the obvious, obligatory anti-Americanism, but that may have been simply the price Ferguson paid for the documentary to see the light of day. The documentary is worthwhile if one already has some knowledge of the 20th century and can place the relevant facts into context. If one can remember how the MSM/DNC tried to deny vigorously some of the facts set forth by Ferguson (even where he misinterprets those facts), one can benefit from this documentary.
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